Inflammation + Our Bodies

Believe it or not, inflammation is a helpful step in our body’s healing process. I’m sure we’ve all had the displeasure being bitten by a mosquito. That annoying and itchy bite mark was swollen for a reason—our body’s immune response kicks into gear to fight off the mosquito saliva. Now imagine if that inflammation did not go down, and it spread throughout our body. Even worse, what if that inflammation was to stay present and become a chronic issue. That would be quite a problem.

Unfortunately, for many of us, inflammation is a chronic problem and it can affect our whole body, damaging things like our gut, healthy tissue, arteries, and joints. Chronic inflammation can cause a number of maladies including:

  • Heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Cancer
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Depression/Anxiety

Inflammation has a number of causes. Age, stress, hormonal imbalances, and, of course, certain foods can all trigger inflammatory responses in our bodies. But good news: Some foods can actually combat inflammation. Here are my favorite inflammation-fighting foods:

Tart Cherries

Scientists have found that tart cherries have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help with inflammatory conditions, like joint pain, arthritis and even gout. An Oregon Health & Science University study showed that tart cherries have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food. They have also been proven to help improve sleep, which, in turn, is important for keeping hormones in check and inflammation at bay. So it’s a win-win.

You can get tart cherry juice at most stores or even tart cherry concentrate online for that extra power. Dried tart cherries can be a great snack, too, but be sure to get a good brand that doesn’t add of extra sugar. Eden is a quality brand and they only sweeten with fruit juice.

If you are sensitive to sugar, don’t worry, you can still get tart cherries by supplementing with cherry extract capsules. Most supplement brands contain 1,000 mg of the extract, which is equivalent to 2 cups (16 ounces) of pure cherry juice or a half pound of cherries. If you are taking it for for regular maintenance, you could try taking 1,000 mg daily. It you are taking it for arthritis, 1,000 mg twice a day can be helpful. And for gout, aim for 2,000 mg three times a day.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

I love using EVOO not only because it adds so much flavor to food, but also because I know it is good for my body. Studies have shown that EVOO contains compounds that exert anti-inflammatory action similar to ibuprofen but without the harsh, possibly gut-damaging side effects.

EVOO contains oleocanthal, which has been shown to interfere with processes associated with many types of inflammation and even cancer formation and growth. When ingested, Oleocantha will make the back of the throat tickle or even sting ever so slightly. So pay attention to that tickle.

I’m often asked how to choose a quality olive oil. Virgin olive oils from Tuscany, or other regions that have the same variety of olives, tend to have the highest oleocanthal levels. So, be sure to look for where your EVOO was sourced.

Try to use uncooked EVOO to optimize potency. If you are going to cook with it, only cook on low heat as cooking on high heats can kill off some of the beneficial properties and cause oxidation, which can actually lead to inflammation.

About 3½ tablespoons of the oil is equal to a 200-mg tablet of ibuprofen so add your good EVOO freely onto your protein and veggies.

Black rice

This naturally gluten-free grain is a potent anti-inflammatory due to the high level of antioxidants. In fact, black rice actually contains more antioxidants than blueberries.

In a 2010 study, researchers tested the effects of black rice bran extract on skin inflammation in laboratory mice. When they injected the extract into the mice, it reduced skin inflammation by about 32 percent compared to control animals and also decreased production of certain substances known to promote inflammation.

Black rice can be found in most local grocery stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc.) or online. You can buy it pre-made or raw. To cook it, here is my recommendation:

  • Add 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water.
  • Bring water and rice to a boil, turn down heat to low.
  • Cover the pot and cook for approximately 40 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.
  • If you soak your rice, be sure to reduce your cooking time in half.
  • Top with some ghee for a really robust flavor!

The good news is not only that these foods can help reduce inflammation but they are also super tasty and take little preparation. So be sure to add some to your routine to keep your inflammation in check and your body feeling even better!

IMG_5809-landria-voigt Landria Voigt is a nutritional consultant who has helped hundreds of people improve their health and nutrition. If you’d like more information working Landria, email

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Categories: Cancer, diet, Gut Health, Prevention, Recipe